Putin will ‘kill whoever he has to kill’ says Leon Panetta
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Former US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has warned US allies and NATO over the potential for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to keep committing atrocities on civilians such as the missile strike on a mall in the central city of Kremenchuk, Ukraine, where at least 18 people died on Monday. His warning comes as world leaders have concluded the G7 Summit in Germany and are now attending the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain.
Speaking to Meet The Press, Mr Panetta said: “Look, Putin is basically engaging in barbarous acts, which means he’s going to kill whoever he has to kill. He’s going blow buildings, he’s going destroy.
“His main effort here is to wear down the United States, our allies and Ukraine. That’s his primary goal through this long-protracted war of attrition.”
Some military experts argue the war will also play on the international stage and on the capacity of Western countries to sustain the backfiring effects of sanctions in the long run. Inflation has been galloping across the world and shows no sign of letting up, with food and energy prices rising steadfastly.
Mr Panetta said: “So, it is very important for the United States and our allies, I think that’s the primary message that’s coming out of the G7.”
The G7 countries have committed to back Ukraine in its war against Russia “for as long as it takes.”
And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the G7 leaders he wanted the war to end by the end of the year.
In a sign of relentless support for Ukraine , the leaders slapped new economic sanctions against Russia, including a ban on Russian gold imports.
“I assume it will be the same message out of NATO, which is that the United States and our allies have to remain strongly unified in providing support to Ukraine,” Mr Panetta said.
Whether the West can sustain that united front remains unclear. Before heading to the G7 Summit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to rally the leaders behind a plan to help President Zelensky keep up the fight.
French President Emmanuel Macron, however, previously adopted a more cautious approach, warning against “humiliating” Putin. He even suggested a few weeks ago that the only way out of this conflict was to cede some Ukrainian territories to Russia.
Vladimir Putin has set his eyes on the eastern Donbas region – a piece of coveted land he has been trying to conquer since 2014. His troops have gained full control of the last Ukrainian stronghold of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk province – one of the two Donbas provinces.
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“Right now, it is clear, Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s territory has one objective – the surrender of Ukraine,” said Mr Macron during the G7 Summit.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday the Western deliveries of weapons to Ukraine will only drag out the conflict. He also dismissed Russian troops having targeted a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday, where at least 18 people died following a Russian strike.
After the strike, President Zelensky again called on the United States to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism – a move that would trigger significant penalties on dozens of countries that do business with Moscow.
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